A local Marine was honored as a "Detroit Lion's Hometown Hero" during a National Football League game, Oct. 20, at Ford Field in Detroit.
Sgt. Benjamin J. Annarino, took to the field as more than 60,000 fans cheered during a break in play of the third quarter of the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears game.
Annarino, now a canvassing recruiter in Richmond, Michigan, was nominated via the Detroit Lions website, where military members and first responders are recommended through a public community nomination process. The organization will then select one individual to become a game's “Hometown Hero", according to Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Ronnie P. Cyrus, the Hometown Hero / Salute to Service coordinator for the Detroit Lions.
“The Detroit Lions… are proud to salute men and women who serve our country,” said Cyrus, a native of Lapeer, Michigan. “We select an active duty, wounded or retired member of the military or local emergency services who has made the community proud through their courageous service and exemplary character.”
According to Annarino, after hearing that he was selected, he felt like he was a local celebrity.
“I am the type of person that does not like to be in the limelight or have too much attention on myself,” said Annarino, a native of Livonia, Michigan. “When my family and I entered the stadium, we were treated very well. When we walked out onto the field I had no idea how the crowd was going to react, but it turned out to be an amazing and humbling experience.”
As Annarino and several of his family and friends walked down the tunnel leading to the sideline, he began to feel a nervous excitement come over him, he explained.
“When I was walking down the tunnel all I could hear was the crowd screaming,” he said.
According to Cyrus, Annarino and his family received one of the warmest and loudest cheers of the day.
“To me it felt like I was out there for 20 minutes, but it was probably closer to 15 seconds,” said Annarino. “Honestly, it felt like their cheers were in honor of all those who serve, not just me. It put everything we in the military do, in perspective for me. It reminded me that our nation loves our military for all of our sacrifices, and it was something that I will never forget and I am extremely thankful for.”